hill country observerThe independent newspaper of eastern New York, southwestern Vermont and the Berkshires





Deliberate neighborhood: A new model of community

Lauryn Starkie Kreuder is among a small but growing number of Vermonters who’ve chosen not to give their children all of the vaccines normally required by state health officials. Citing philosophical objections, she and her husband obtained a waiver that allows their older child to attend school without the vaccines. But now state health officials and legislators are pushing to end the practice of granting philosophical exemptions, saying the state needs to boost vaccination rates to protect its citizens. read more



Debating police access to prescription drug records

Faced with what some are calling an “epidemic” of prescription drug abuse in Vermont, state legislators have passed two competing bills to give police greater access to a state database of prescription records. But the state House and Senate have so far disagreed about whether police should be required to obtain a search warrant before getting information from the database. read more



Ruling boosts Spa City reform effort

A local citizens group won a major court ruling last month in its effort overhaul the city government in Saratoga Springs. Saratoga Citizen collected more than 2,200 petition signatures in 2010 for a referendum on its proposal to replace the city’s commission form of government, which it views as outdated. But the city fought the effort in court, losing an initial ruling in 2011 and an appeal last month. read more



At Hubbard Hall, a hard act to follow

Hubbard Hall, the 19th century opera house that was reborn more than 30 years ago as a performing arts center for southern Washington County, is facing some big changes. Benjie White, the executive director of the nonprofit that runs Hubbard Hall, has announced he’ll step down in April 2014, when he turns 70. White was one of the arts center’s founders and is the only executive director the organization has ever known.read more



Flavors from the farm

Suvir Saran’s latest cookbook is part recipes, part memoir, chronicling the four seasons as experienced on the Washington County farm the chef shares with his partner, Charlie Burd.



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